Part 1 - what they've got / what you've got
Of course the easiest way to sponsor is to donate money to your local/national cause and expect nothing in return. This kind of philanthropy can feel good.
But, actually, having a working relationship can feel even better.
I've marketed and managed the arts and voluntary sector for two decades and seen excellent sponsorship and others more effort than they were worth.
Unless you're simply going to bung some cash (and believe me they will love you for it!), like any part of your business or marketing, know what they can offer and what you are prepared to give ie have a plan.
What they can offer
- Awareness raising
This is what people usually think of by sponsorship - a logo on their brochures, social media, etc. Hand out your leaflets, show your banners. The importance here is who their customers are – are they customers you want to reach, and are there enough of them?
- Create goodwill
Community-based organisations can have well-connected and respected people, whether that's a pillar-of-the-community volunteer or a captain of industry on the board. Your sponsorship can create brilliant word of mouth and find loyal customers.
- Test your product or service
Use their customers to test out your product, such as a new beer at a festival.
- Brand association
Have some of what they have reflect onto your business - perhaps you're worried that your brand is hampered by a stuffy image and want to breathe new life into it? Or you want to be taken more seriously? Or break into a younger/older/family, etc market. Or to recruit a more diverse workforce.
- Benefits for your staff
This could be a day out or tickets to an event. Or feeling good by raising money for something close to their heart.
- Invigorate your business with skill sharing
A scriptwriter could help PR and marketing people write more compelling copy. A fundraiser could teach new tricks on how to connect with your customers. An actor could help presentation and sales skills.
What you can offer
Cash is always good - it's super flexible and always needed. But it might create a rather shallow relationship.
- General volunteering
Give staff a day out doing odd jobs (bear in mind that there's only so many times a charity's office wall needs painting!).
- A secondment
For example, donate your PR person to a charity for a set time.
- Business skills
Become a board member - this is also an excellent opportunity to skill-up middle management. Offer advice on marketing, PR, planning, etc - whatever transferable skills you or your business can offer.
- Access to your customers
Shout about your sponsorship and write about their organisation/event to your customers and staff in newsletters, internal communication and social media. Give them a chance to talk to your staff in meetings/conference or a stall in your canteen.
Hardware, software, IT, office supplies, print, design, haircuts! Offering what you do for free can be a cheap way of suppling essential equipment and services.
- Raise money for them
Staff could run sponsored events or bake sales. You could be an ambassador who asks your own business/individual network for donations.
- Get involved
If it's a campaigning group, endorse their campaign; encourage your staff to get involved eg write a letter or collect signatures.
Pictured is The Richard Jefferies Museum, Swindon - an excellent example of a small organisation where a little bit of money (or a lot!) goes a long way.
Louisa Davison (01672 811515) of Secret Agent Marketing handles strategy for Business Biscuit. Get in touch if you want assistance brokering or promoting a sponsorship deal.
Next time: Getting the most from sponsorship part 2 - pitfalls and best practice